US confirms North Korea loading rocket onto launch padMarch 26th, 2009 - 6:19 am ICT by IANS
Washington, March 26 (DPA) North Korea is loading a Taepodong rocket onto a launch pad ahead of what Pyongyang says is a plan to place a satellite into space, a US official confirmed Wednesday.
“It is out there,” the counter-proliferation official said. “It’s the latest indication the North Koreans are moving forward with their announced plans to launch.”
The official confirmed earlier Japanese media reports that the rocket was being moved onto the lift-off pad for North Korea’s announced April 4-8 launch.
The possible firing of the Taepodong missile has increased tension within the region. The US, South Korea and Japan say the launch is a guise for testing a ballistic missile theoretically capable of reaching the US state of Alaska. Washington has said that a launch would be seen as a “provocative” act.
North Korea says the rocket is meant to carry a communications satellite into orbit. It comes amid North Korea threats against South Korea, with six-nation disarmament talks stalled.
North Korea warned Wednesday that it will stop participating in the six-nation negotiations if it is subjected to more sanctions in response to a launch. The US says launching the rocket would violate a 2006 UN Security Council resolution.
“The UN Security Council made it clear that ballistic missile technology that is used for launching satellites or launching missiles is, in effect, the same and held North Korea to a commitment not to engage in ballistic missile testing,” State Department deputy spokesman Gordon Duguid said.
Duguid would not say whether Washington will seek additional sanctions if Pyongyang proceeds with the test.
“I’m not going to predict what our reaction would be to something that hasn’t taken place yet,” he said.
Chinese and South Korean officials met Wednesday in Beijing to discuss a unified stance against the possible launch.
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